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5 Important Side Effects of Birth Control Methods You Should Know

Some find popping a pill the easiest way to save their neck from unwanted pregnancy while others prefer long term implantation. No matter what your choice is, birth control methods have made way in every woman’s life at least once. As common and effective these are, there are side effects of birth control methods that needs to be understood before using them.

Birth control is one effective contrivance with ample of benefits. In addition to the self explanatory nature of  preventing any unwanted pregnancy, Birth control methods ,including contraceptive pills are a great way to bring your irregular periods back on track. However, birth controls too have their own demerits that can’t be overlooked.

Before getting into further details, let’s understand the types of birth control options available.

Types and side effects of birth control methods 

1. Ones that acts as a barrier

These type of birth control methods act as a barrier between the sperm and egg and prevent pregnancy. Condoms, cervical caps, and diaphragms are an example of this type of birth control. Such types of birth control methods contain a chemical called Spermicide that destroys the sperm as soon as it comes out.

Side effects of barrier birth control methods

As a barrier birth control method goes into your body, it has a high risk of infection. Some of the main side effects of barriers are:

  • Increased risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs) in case of the wrong usage of diaphragm and spermicide.
  • If you leave cervical cap or diaphragm inside your body for more than 24 hours, then it poses the risk of toxic shock syndrome.
  • If you are allergy prone then chances are high that the chemical present in spermicides may give rise to allergies in your internal organs.

2. Ones  that prevent ovulation- Birth control pills, Hormonal patches, Birth control implants, and vaginal ring

Some other types of birth control methods works by preventing ovulation. With the use of artificial hormones, this method delays the ovulation in a woman. Hence, you minimize the chances of becoming pregnant. Birth control pills, hormonal patches, vaginal rings, and birth control implants are the most common examples under this category. They are often referred to as hormone birth control methods as well.

Side effects of hormonal birth control method

Short term effects of hormonal birth control method

As your hormonal birth control methods contain artificial progesterone/estrogen, they hinder the natural hormonal balance. And this is what creates havoc. You can experience a plethora of side-effects including:

  • Spotting and bleeding during periods.
  • Several episodes of headaches.
  • Nausea.
  • Gradual weight gain.
  • Frequent weight gain.
  • Decreased libido
  • Changes in vaginal discharge

Here, one thing to keep in mind is that not all the women taking hormonal birth control methods will experience these side effects. The frequency and intensity of side effects varies from person to person.

In addition, some side effects can appear soon after you start using the method while a few start showing up after several usages. All these side effects are likely to disappear after a few months as your body gets adjusted to the artificial hormones.

Long term side effects of hormonal birth control methods

As we have mentioned earlier that the side-effects of hormonal birth control methods usually fade away after few months of usage, there are not many long term side effects as such. However, there are always exceptions and we can’t turn a blind eye towards them.

After long term usage, some women can experience long term side effects such as:

  • Heavy or painful periods.
  • Menopause.
  • Endometriosis.
  • Increased chances of breast and cervical cancer.
  • Increased blood clot issue.
  • Thickening of eye cornea.

3. Ones that prevent implantation of a fertilized egg- IUD.

In this birth control methods, an egg is fertilized but is prevented from implantation in the uterus. IUD or intrauterine device belongs to this category.

Side effects of IUD birth control method

As IUD comes in different varieties, its side effects also vary as per the type of IUD you are using.

  • In the case of copper-based IUD, you may experience high blood flow during your periods. It may worsen the cramps as well.
  • Puncture or perforation of the uterus is rare but it is a possible side effect with all sorts of IUDs.
  • If you are using hormonal based IUDs, then you may experience side effects such as breast tenderness, acne, weight gain, mood swings, headaches, and bleeding between the periods.

4. Ones which you take in emergencyMorning after pill

So, you had unprotected sex last night. But there is no need to worry. The morning after pill or emergency contraceptive pill is here to rescue you.  You can gulp down this pill within 120 hours after unprotected sex. It basically delays your ovulation and prevents pregnancy.

Side effects of morning after pills

In terms of side effects, the mornings after pills bring great relief. They come with only minor side effects such as nausea, vomiting, breast tenderness, irregular periods in the next cycle and headaches.

However, all these side effects subside after one or two days of taking the pill.

5. Ones which takes you under the knife- Surgical sterilization (tubal ligation or vasectomy)

Unlike all other birth control methods that are temporary, this is a permanent one and is available for both men and women. Surgical sterilization is available in two options: tubal ligation and vasectomy.

In the case of tubal ligation, the fallopian tubes of a woman will be sealed or blocked forever to prevent the egg from reaching the uterus.

Vasectomy is a permanent birth control method for men, wherein the small sperm-carrying tubes of a male scrotum are cut off or blocked to prevent sperm release.

Side effects of surgical sterilization

Though both the procedures are safe to adopt, going under the knife is something that involves some sort of discomfort anyway.

  • In the case of tubal ligation, there may be cases of infection after surgery infraction if you overlook the basic aftercare. In addition, excess bleeding can also occur.
  • If you have chosen vasectomy then you may experience swelling and pain for initial days. Few men can be fertile during the initial days of the procedure. So, it is recommended to use any barrier birth control method for say about 10-12 weeks after the procedure.

When should you call your doctor?

All these common side effects of birth control methods are temporary and should subside within 4-5 weeks. However, it is not always true. In some cases, it may linger on for long periods and create nuisance if neglected.

That is why you should keep a track of your symptoms and call your doctor immediately if:

  • You are down with a high fever just after one day of the procedure. This happens mostly in the case of surgical sterilization and indicates the presence of an infection. So, keep on checking your body temperature and inform the doctor accordingly.
  • The bleeding is continuous which also indicates that your body is not comfortable with the change.
  • You experience severe pain during sex.
  • You notice any unusual vaginal discharge.
  • You feel pregnancy like symptoms. That clearly shows that your birth control has failed and needs an immediate fix.
  • There is heavy pelvic or belly pain.

Birth controls are indeed the best way to prevent any unwanted pregnancy and have safe sex. However, you need to be aware of their side effects and choose accordingly. Proper doctor consultation and awareness are highly recommended.

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Shyamala Rajasekar

Foodaholic with an untrustworthy appetite. Meat lover. She cannot write bios.

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